Increasing primary care capacity and referral efficiency: A case study of a telehealth centre eConsult service in Brazil.

Publication date: Mar 06, 2024

eConsults are asynchronous digital communications for primary care professionals to seek timely specialist advice. Potential benefits include increased primary healthcare capacity and referral efficiency. Santa Catarina Telehealth Centre in Brazil has offered eConsults for an increasing number of specialties since 2008. This study described the characteristics of this service, including referral efficiency, sustainability, and satisfaction. Retrospective longitudinal analysis of eConsults activity data from 2015 to 2022 with three domains of the Model for Assessment of Telemedicine Applications used to structure the analysis. Characteristics of the application: The total number of eConsults performed in 2015 was 4764, reaching 41,178 in 2022. While 30. 3% of eConsults were synchronous in 2015, only asynchronous communication remained from 2021. Clinical effectiveness: eConsults requested to refer patients to specialist care resulting in primary care management remaining above 30% of the total for all specialties from 2019 to 2022, with hematology having the highest percentage (>52%). Organizational aspects: Established workflows with local specialists responding to eConsults (cardiology, endocrinology, hematology and orthopaedics) kept a constant or increasing number of eConsults and maintained the proportion of primary care management from 2019 to 2022, once recovered from COVID-19 and funding restrictions-related reductions. Over 90% of primary care professionals are either satisfied or very satisfied with the eConsult service. Over 8 years, 223,734 consultations were conducted, with high satisfaction, demonstrating the substantial potential for increased primary care-sensitive conditions management. Hiring local specialists, fostering integrated care, and enabling sustainable workflows are key to eConsults’ success.

Concepts Keywords
Brazil eConsults
Orthopaedics primary care
Sustainable referral and consultation


Type Source Name
disease VO efficiency
disease VO effectiveness
disease MESH COVID-19
drug DRUGBANK Spinosad

Original Article

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